Amnesty Int’l warns Mutharika with arrests of rights activists: ‘Malawi crackdown on dissent’

Global human rights defender, Amnesty International (AI),  has said the arrest of  two activists with the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) is  a crackdown on dissent ahead of first ever fresh elections.

Trapence (L) and Sembereka: Under arrest

HRDC’s Gift Trapence and Reverend McDonald Sembereka, who have been vocal critics of last year’s election, have been in police custody since Sunday after they were arrested in Lilongwe for threatening to  shut down state residences in the  demonstration aimed to pressure President Peter Mutharika to sign election reforms bills passed by parliament.

The worldwide human rights watchdog has since asked Malawi authorities to  “immediately and unconditionally” release the detained activists.

“The arrests of Gift Trapence and Reverend McDonald Sembereka are deeply troubling, coming amidst the highly charged political environment ahead of the election rerun. Many human rights defenders have been subjected to threats, including by President Arthur Mutharika and senior leaders of his party,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

AI said the authorities must stop threatening, harassing and intimidating human rights defenders and allow them to freely exercise their rights.

“The latest arrests are part of a well-orchestrated campaign aimed at intimidating and harassing activists. It sends the chilling message that they will be punished for exercising their human rights,” said Muchena.

At the weekend, President Mutharika warned Mtambo and his leadership team at the HRDC that they would be dealt with if they marched to the State House. The president mentioned Mtambo, Trapence and Sembereka by their names.

The Office of the Inspector General issued a statement on Monday, accusing the three activists of inciting people to break the law by calling on the public to march to the State House during their press conference on 6 March 2020.

Political science lecturer at the University of Malawi Mustapha Hussein said Sunday’s arrests were heavy-handed and a bad sign.

“You can see now the arrest comes after the president said something.  It’s like the police were incited as well to do some sort of arrest which I think does not paint a good picture of the government.  It’s like a sign of political intolerance so to speak or wanting to victimize human rights activists,” he said.

Hussein said since the shutdown was yet to happen, the police should have first discussed the planned protest with the activists.

Meanwhile,  HRDC spokesman Luke Tembo said they will not be intimidated by the arrests.

“HRDC is a system, HRDC is not about individuals.  We are going to proceed with our plans; they are not going to intimidate us.  What we are going to do now is making sure that our colleagues are released on bail and then we proceed with our planned engagements,” he said.

Since last year’s May election results, the HRDC has been organizing protests, which have sometimes turned violent.

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Titi
Titi
8 months ago

Amnesty International is a VERY biased, useless and stupid organisation with little credibility around the world. Can Amnesty condemn the killing of Palestinians by Israel. Can Amnesty condemn the USA for killing innocent people in Iraq etc? Can Amnesty International condemn the EU for torturing refugees? Can Amnesty stop the killing in Syria? Amnesty International is fond of bulling small nations. They fail to condemn America and close their eyes to many attrocities around the world. Let Amnesty SHUT UP and leave Malawi alone. Let them go to Palestine, Syria etc and solve bigger problems there.

Luwe
Luwe
8 months ago

Stupid Amnesty Int. This is our country and we have laws to follow not you. Please give us a break. Where were you when your thugs were busy killing people and destroying our properties?

Kambewa Chisale
8 months ago
Reply to  Luwe

Foseki
You don’t know what you are talking about.
APM is an American citizen if war starts he will run away to USA

wa Nyau
wa Nyau
8 months ago

Kodi palibe wa polisi olimba Mtima? tangowaphani ku cell ko asatinyase apa.alondole Buleya Lule

Gongoni Wakuda
Gongoni Wakuda
8 months ago
Reply to  wa Nyau

PA CHAKUTI CHAKO WA NYAU

Mpweya zii
Mpweya zii
8 months ago
Reply to  wa Nyau

Wow! Shameless. So moyo wamunthu ulibe ntchito??

Wandu kogoya
Wandu kogoya
8 months ago
Reply to  wa Nyau

Cadet iwe mbuzi ya munthu

Rue
Rue
8 months ago
Reply to  wa Nyau

Let one police sort these HRDC fools out and help us have peace.

Nambewe
Nambewe
8 months ago

well threatening to destroy the state house which is the home of the president is tantamount to overthrowing the president! Which is it a crim for Mutharika to defend himself against that? Why is the government expected to take all this destruction lying down? Chakwea and Chilima are causing chaos in Malawi and the masses should recognise these man as being very selfish self centred people.

charles
charles
8 months ago
Reply to  Nambewe

Nambe kodi wagulako tomako wokathira mubonya kkkkkkk be in the kitchen shallow horse brain.

Mtete
Mtete
8 months ago
Reply to  Nambewe

Were they going to destroy the state house? Kumva kusiyana abale

Ela
Ela
8 months ago
Reply to  Nambewe

HRDC leaders need to be severely punished. They can’t be allowed to continue destroying property and threatening the HEAD of State.

Nematodes
8 months ago

‘……..smell the coffee Mr. President! This is 2020!

Ula
Ula
8 months ago
Reply to  Nematodes

Smell the coffeee HRDC. Smell the coffee Mtambo, Trapence, Tembo, Mwenda, Sembeleka.

Kambewa Chisale
8 months ago
Reply to  Ula

What shit is APM talking about when he says Smell the coffee.

Rahiman
Rahiman
8 months ago

Stop calling them human rights activists Sembeleka was a shadow MP for Mangochi central under PP which is in alliance with MCP but he lost . He is advocating for Mcp to be in government thus why they are doing this so that people from outside they must look like government is after human rights activists. How come real activists are quite while real issues are killing citizens of our country talk about shortages of medicine in hospitals, people are still drinking water from zitsime 20 century

Jinola
Jinola
8 months ago
Reply to  Rahiman

Open your eyes Man

Angozo
8 months ago
Reply to  Rahiman

Whether you like it or not dpp is falling.

charles
charles
8 months ago
Reply to  Rahiman

Rahim ukuti chani makamaka kkkkkkk

Pewani.
Pewani.
8 months ago

Nyekhwe

Patricia
8 months ago
Reply to  Pewani.

What does that mean

che
che
8 months ago

What does amnesty international do? Useless. They should first find out how many times these guys have been previously left untouched despite their lawlesness.

charles
charles
8 months ago
Reply to  che

che ndinu mbuzi peter sachita za dziko msanga ukumbukira ali minister of education za university closure peter ndi mbutuma paja upulofesa ndi rank osati qualification

Wilson Nkwanda
Wilson Nkwanda
8 months ago
Reply to  charles

Frequent protests demonstrate in any country in the world Malawi in particular inept and indecisive leadership.

Zione
Zione
8 months ago

Government should not get worried of these bastards. It’s only people from Lilongwe and the North who are supporting these lunatics. If any of them dare come close to state house where the president stays, it will be the final show down _ the battle of state house which will be written in the history of Malawi. Tsopano tikuyendera payerepayere.

charles
charles
8 months ago
Reply to  Zione

eya tilembadi zionetsanso how bad his leadership is.

Nana
Nana
8 months ago

These are not Human Rights activists but TERRORISTs

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